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Launching of the „Blue Responsibility Award: Manufacturing for a Sustainable Terra Preta Sanitation System“

In short: With around 40% of the world’s population currently lacking basic sanitation, the need for sustainable solutions on this issue is urgent. In order to demonstrate the broad range of applications of sustainable manufacturing, the organizers of the 12th Global Conference on Sustainable Manufacturing (GCSM) open today the competition for the „Blue Responsibility Award: Manufacturing for a Sustainable Terra Preta Sanitation System“.


According to UN Water, 2.5 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. As a consequence, it is estimated that every 20 seconds a child dies as a result of poor sanitation. One notable cause is the large part of non-treated household wastewater that is directly returned to the environment and contributes to the development of diseases. In areas where water-based sanitation systems are broadly implemented, other issues arise: In Germany for example, each person consumes on average around 35 litres of freshwater to evacuate her/his daily production of 1 to 1.5 kg of excreta according to the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. In other words, 35 times more water than our excreta volume is used only to transport it away. Aside of water consumption, the complex infrastructures of pipes, sewers and clarification plants require significant amounts of resources. Moreover, the systematic elimination of human excretions, which are no longer returned to the soil, breaks the nutrient cycle and impoverishes the soil, ultimately leading to erosion and a higher use of chemical fertilizers.

Consequently, current available water-based sanitation systems are, on one side, insufficiently accessible by the emerging countries and, on the other side, environmentally inefficient as implemented in earlier industrialized countries. More environmentally and economically efficient solutions are called for. One of the possible approaches is the so-called Terra Preta Sanitation Systems. The basic principle of these waterless sanitation systems is to collect excreta with the help of dry toilets in order to elaborate fertile soil substrate that increases food production yields. These systems would offer users the double benefit of reducing detrimental health effects from lack of sanitation, while providing them with a natural and sustainable source of fertile soil. Although the principle of a sanitation systems ensuring a closed loop of nutrients (see figure) is roughly specified, so far, no comprehensive market-ready solution is available for a large scale implementation.

In order to meet this challenge, the GCSM organizers, with the support of the World Toilet Organisation (WTO), launch today an international competition for Sustainable Terra Preta Sanitation System Design. The aim is to design and to prototype a comprehensive sanitation system that could create value with what is today considered as waste while requiring minimal material input e.g. infrastructure and water and therefore being implementable in urban areas of early industrialized as well as emerging countries. The award of 10 000 Euros is to be shared among the best contributions. The best contributions will be identified by an independent jury led by Prof. Gunter Pauli, founder of the Blue Economy initiative. The winners will be announced at the 12th CIRP Global Conference on Sustainable Manufacturing on September 24th 2014 in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

Please visit www.gcsm.eu for further details regarding the competition. Hands on! We look forward to receive your applications!

Johannes Seidel, M.Sc.
Technische Universität Berlin
Institute for Machine Tools and Factory Management
Department for Assembly Technology and Factory Management
Office PTZ 2 Pascalstr. 8-9 10587 Berlin – Germany
Tel.: +49 (0)30/314 – 75835
E-Mail: seidel@mf.tu-berlin.de


Download PDF: Sustainable Sanitation Competition

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